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WHY I WAS A HOOKER - PART 1
Aged eight, just, I found myself at boarding school. On the first Saturday we had games afternoon. It was a school of 78 boarding pupils, and rugby was the only sports option during the Christmas Term. First Match was made up of the god-like figures of the First XV and the cannon fodder of their training opponents. Second Match was the next group, the future First Match and a few useless lumps who had neither skill nor desire to progress to such heights. The remorseless maths of such a small school meant that Third Match was largely played as anything from five a side to nine a side: the number depended on who was injured, in detention otherwise unavailable.
END OF SEASON POLL 2018-19
It’s that time of year again – The end of Season Poll Everyone is invited to contribute – send your nominations for some or all of the categories below (don’t worry if you don’t have a view on all of them) to:- “unofish at hotmail dot co dot uk” The more votes we get the more representative our poll is of your views so PLEASE VOTE! Even if you’ve never voted before there’s always a first time!
A FINALE FIT FOR CHAMPIONS
We have all been waiting for this match-up for the whole season. Both teams pretty much at full strength, but a couple missing to give them the get out if they lost. The sun was shining, shorts on and supporters seemed to be from a lot more clubs this year. I got a real feeling of community, smiling away at other spectators. Seats decent too, although as it turned out we were at the wrong end for most of the tries.
It is fitting that the 2 best teams in the premiership this season will be at HQ for the Premiership final. Saracens and Exeter have been head and shoulders above the rest and any other contest would have been a travesty.
Cherries Nicked, no harvest for Gloucester.
There is a certainty about one aspect of watching Sarries at Allianz Park: if the opposition take the first kick-off, Sarries have won the toss and will play into the wind. So it was this weekend. Oddly, the wind seemed to be fairly innocuous to begin with, certainly not the 15-20 pointer that the forecast suggested. The first action of the game in play was a straightforward drop into the perfectly placed pod of George Kruis and attendant lifters. Wind or none, the first Sarries touch of the ball was George mistiming his catch and giving Gloucester an attacking scrum inside the Sarries 22.
SARRIES LOOK TO ADD GLOS TO THEIR SEASON
The season is brewing up nicely for the climax of the Gallagher Premiership and Saracens, reigning Champions and newly crowned Champions of Europe (sounds good doesn’t it) will take on Gloucester Rugby on Saturday for the right to defend their domestic title at Twickenham.
Worcester Match Report
I thought that when I brought a caravan in Evesham that Worcester away games would be wonderful. Then they got relegated, the return season was a Friday night game that I could not get to from London in time and when my wife asked me to work this Saturday after some staff illness I realised that it wasn’t to be. I did insist on stopping at 3pm, went home and found a feed on Betfair. It did mean though I got to listen to the ref mike all the way through the game even if the screen was phone sized. There was a pretty strong wind; the home team won the toss and played against it first half, just as Sarries do at Allianz. The first exchanges involved a lot of kicking, but eventually Sarries held on to run with it for a few phases. Earl ran through and was stopped by Teo who laid all over him to give away a soft penalty for a 3 point lead.
Sarries produce three star performance
Before this game the general feeling was that the two best teams in Europe had reached the final. The bookies were unusually coy about predicting the outcome, and overall it appeared that the money was weighted towards Sarries, but with only a single point of advantage. Travellers to the Toon were welcomed, and had the chance to air their lungs on Friday evening, as the two French finalists in the Challenge Cup produced a brilliant game of rugby. I doubt a single Sarries supporter would not have welcomed the Clermont win, and particularly the fact that Benjamin Kayser will not retire as the man who took a losing part in more finals, national and European, than any other player since the game went professional.
Sarries ‘emerging talent’ swamp Exeter ‘inexperience’.
This headline naturally condenses the two DoRs’ take on the game. Mark McCall, never afraid to pitch anyone into the line-up, gives his senior players a weekend of cotton-wool, and judiciously mixes extreme youth, coming players, semi-established names and old men. Rob Baxter has to throw in several young players with remarkably little experience, a result of reluctance, seen at many clubs, to use his entire squad over the season, relying instead on the war horse names to turn out week after week.
SHALL WE CALL IT A DRAW?
When the fixture list came out last summer, I remember thinking this Saturday’s clash between Sarries & Exeter Chiefs would be a game to look forward to. For once it is not in the International window and both teams might just need to get something out of the game so it should have been a match to savour. Fast forward 9 months and I see I was wrong.